Graduate diploma vs. postgraduate diploma

A crucial aspect of any student’s international education journey lies in having a comprehensive understanding of the different fields and study options available to them. This is vital to making a well-informed decision on which study program might be best for them. When evaluating this, students may find themselves asking: “What’s the difference between a graduate diploma vs. master’s degree?”, “Is a postgraduate diploma better than a degree?” or “Is a graduate diploma higher than a degree?” Among these, another common consideration encountered by international students is between pursuing a graduate diploma vs. a postgraduate diploma.

In this article, we’ll go through the differences between these two academic pathways. We’ll also break down how each one might align better with a student’s specific education and career goals.


What is a diploma?

Before going into the differences between the two diploma programs, we should first understand what a diploma is. According to Indeed, a diploma is “a certificate that signifies a certain level of education and practical experience. Unlike a degree, diplomas are typically more specific regarding a certain career, take less time to achieve and provide more vocational experience.”

Diplomas are awarded to students who complete a course and pass examinations. This may take between two to four years to achieve depending on whether they study full-time or part-time. The course content is practical, with a large amount of vocational and technical studies. It equips graduates with useful knowledge and skills they would be able to apply directly in their careers once they join the workforce.


Graduate diploma and postgraduate diploma definitions across the world

In some countries, graduate and postgraduate diplomas are recognised as the same thing. How it’s regarded largely depends on the education qualifications framework followed by the country.

For example, the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) says that a graduate diploma “qualifies individuals who apply a body of knowledge in a range of contexts to undertake professional or highly skilled work and as a pathway for further learning.” It’s equivalent to a level 8 criteria. The AQF does not provide a definition for a postgraduate diploma. However, students in their first year of study in MBA courses are referred to as postgraduate diploma students. It’s only after they complete the course’s full duration that they are labelled as MBA holders.

In Ireland, a postgraduate diploma is at the same academic level as a master’s degree. Both have a level 9 award based on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) of Ireland. The main differences between the two are seen in their course duration and academic requirements. Postgraduate diplomas are shorter. Moreover, students don’t have to submit a dissertation for a postgraduate diploma. Entry into a postgraduate diploma in Ireland is typically for those with honours bachelor’s degrees. That said, holders of ordinary bachelor’s degrees may also apply.


Graduate diploma vs. postgraduate diploma

While there are varying definitions of graduate diplomas and postgraduate diplomas, we can still look into some general qualities that distinguish these two diploma programs from each other.

A graduate diploma is a short diploma course taken after completing a bachelor’s degree. Most students take it to earn additional qualifications before potentially entering a master’s program. A postgraduate diploma, on the other hand, is an advanced academic qualification designed for those who are seeking a more advanced level of specialisation in a particular field.

A graduate diploma aims to provide foundational knowledge in a specific field. It often serves as a broad introduction to a subject area. In contrast, a postgraduate diploma’s content complexity is considered higher. It offers students more advanced training and delves deeper into the chosen discipline.

These two diploma programs may also differ in academic requirements. Graduate diplomas may focus more on coursework and practical application of knowledge, preparing students for immediate entry into the workforce. Meanwhile, postgraduate diplomas, given their more advanced nature, may include a research component or require a thesis to immerse and integrate students deeper into their chosen field while making significant contributions.

Lastly, graduate diplomas can enhance employability by providing a solid foundation in a chosen field, making graduates well-equipped for entry-level positions. Postgraduate diplomas may open doors to more advanced and niche positions within an industry.

Deciding between a graduate diploma and a postgraduate diploma requires careful consideration of various factors. It’s advisable for students to do thorough research, consult with institution representatives and reach out to credible organisations that can aid them in achieving their study abroad goals. GSP’s business development experts are more than happy to help you learn about more ways to help your students—connect with us today!

More Posts

To get the latest updates,
subscribe to our mailing list

Subscribe to newsletter

Request a demo

An upgrad GSP expert will reach out to discuss your needs.

Book a demo